Down the Newt Chute

It’s becoming all too predictable.

As soon as a GOP presidential candidate gains traction in Iowa, the bright lights hit him/her and they melt down like a cheap candle. The latest to follow the pattern is, of course, Newt Gingrich. Just 15 days ago, we measured Newt with a robust 30 percent. But everyone—including the merry elves at We Ask America—warned that Gingrich could soon travail down the Newt Chute due to the cyclical habits exhibited by GOP frontrunners and the former Speaker’s penchant for provocative barbs.

Sure enough, Gingrich appears to be fading badly, but those who have dumped him seem to have spread their new affections more evenly than others have reported. While Ron Paul has picked up a bit more of Newt’s castoffs,  the field is starting to look like a real horse race. Here’s our latest numbers from last night and a tracking comparison of the last five polls we conducted in the Hawkeye State:

Type of Poll: Automated - Date of Poll: 12/20/2011 - Participants: 1,250 GOP voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.77%
 
Bachmann
Gingrich
Huntsman
Paul
Perry
Romney
Santorum
Uncertain
ALL VOTERS15%16%4%19%11%18%9%8%
GENDER
Female14%13%4%18%11%20%8%11%
Male15%18%4%20%12%17%9%5%
AGE BRACKET
18-2450%8%3%18%8%5%5%3%
25-3426%13%10%21%15%5%3%8%
35-4411%23%2%30%11%14%7%4%
45-5414%13%5%24%8%14%13%10%
55-6412%18%3%21%8%19%10%8%
65+11%16%3%14%15%26%7%8%


TRACKER:

Candidate
Aug. 16*
Nov. 6
Nov. 28
Dec. 5
Dec. 20
Michelle Bachmann17%11%13%13%15%
Herman Cain5%22%7%N/AN/A
Newt Gingrich5%18%29%30%16%
Jon Huntsman1%2%4%3%4%
Ron Paul8%11%11%14%19%
Rick Perry29%4%5%7%11%
Mitt Romney15%15%13%16%18%
Rick Santorum4%3%5%4%9%
Uncertain9%14%13%12%8%

The results for Ron Paul in last night’s poll may actually be a couple of points better than it shows here among the general electorate due to his strength in the 35-44 & 45-54 age brackets, but the Iowa caucuses skew older so we’re not ready to grant him the Clear Leader Status yet. However, Paul reportedly is the only candidate who has the ground troops to put a live body in each of the 1,700+ Iowa precincts…an impressive feat to say the least. In addition, Congressman Paul has been among the most consistent performers in Iowa and elsewhere. Combine those facts with the quirkiness of Iowa caucus system and it’s impossible to not put him at the top of the heap for now.

But perhaps Paul would be better off NOT being looked at as the Big Kahuna given the fate of the last few players who occupied the top of the leader board. Like the Greek legend of Icarus, every Republican who flies too close to the sun in an attempt to escape the surly bonds of the pack ends up melting his/her wings in the blazing heat of the sun.

With President Barack Obama reportedly regaining some lost ground, can the Republicans finally find someone who can take the heat?

——————

*Note: the August 16 Iowa poll included 7% for Sarah Palin while she was still rumored to be in the running. You can view our previous posts on Iowa here, herehere and here.

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